Tuesday, May 28, 2013

June 2013: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam

Meeting Details - we are meeting on WEDNESDAY, June 5th at Danielle's house at 7:30; discussion to begin as close to 8pm as we can manage.  :-)

Don't have time for the whole book this month?  Try chapters 1,3 and 11 (How to Get into Medical School I and II, and Contact Tracing) which follow Ming, Chen and Fitz.

Discussion Questions:
(questions #9 and #11 are optional, depending on how many people read the stories referred to in those questions)
  1. Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?
  2. Which was your favorite story?  Why?  Do you think the stories are enhanced by being read together in this collection or would each story have a great impact on it's own?
  3. Were you able to relate to the characters and the situations they faced based on your own experience in the health care profession? Were they believable characters, and who could you most relate to?
  4. Were you more interested in the characters or in the medical situations?
  5. Did you find certain medical scenes in the book "sickening"?  Which one(s)?  Do you think that this was Lam's intent in the way the scenes were written?
  6. Given the popularity of medical dramas on TV, how did you find reading such material in book format? Is it fair to say it’s a closer representation of reality or not? Why do you think general public is so fascinated by medical drama?
  7. Lam’s title references “miraculous cures”—to what extent are such “cures” evident in the book? Do you think Lam is suggesting that medicine has an element to the miraculous about it? How does this notion hold out in the book, and in your own working experience?
  8. How did you feel about Fitz’s character flaws, of which there seem to be many? What sort of social responsibility does a doctor have, or accountability for his/her actions outside practice? Did you judge him for his behaviour, such as sneaking into Ming’s apartment and his drinking, or are such weaknesses forgivable given the strain of an intense medical career?
  9. How did you feel about Lam’s exposure of the negative sides of medical practice, such as the death in “Code Clock” that was clearly unnoticed by the nurse, or the biting incident in “Eli.” Does it humanize physicians and nurses, or do you think it risks creating a fearful public? In engaging with these themes, what does it indicate about how the public views physicians today—that is, no longer as inscrutable figures of authority.
  10. Lam leaves several stories open-ended—”Winston” and “Contact Tracing”—where we never learn the fate of key characters. Why do you think he did that? What do you think happens to Fitzgerald?
  11. Most of the stories are told strictly from the perspective of the physicians, but in “Winston,” “Afterwards,” and “An Insistent Tide” Lam follows the lives of patients as well. What purpose does that shift in focus serve? Did it enhance your reading, or perhaps distract you from the main storyline(s)?
  12. Why do you think Chen attempted to rescue Fitzgerald, in light of their shared history and their shared conversations in isolation?
Menu: Heart Healthy
- sandwiches (you choose)

  • egg salad with a twist - Tessa
- salads (you choose)

  • broccoli salad - Melissa
  • spinach, beet and feta salad - Sherrie
- fruit plate 

- good quality dark chocolate - Stephanie

Drinks: fruit juice/herbal tea - Danielle


  1. OOH Fun:) I will bring a broccoli salad.

  2. I will bring my new favourite salad - spinach, beet and feta salad with balsamic dressing - looking forward to it. Just got the book today, so I've got to get to reading :)

  3. Trish will bring a fruit plate

  4. I can do the good quality dark chocolate :)

    1. Does this cancel your email saying that you can't make it?!

  5. I'll bring tuna or chicken sandwiches or wraps...depends on my mood. :)


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